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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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14 Nov 2017 Ohio House Considers Bill to Protect Businesses from Architectural Barrier Lawsuits

  The Ohio House is considering a bill that would protect employers and business owners from unexpected lawsuits by disabled plaintiffs. House Bill 271 would create Section 4112.16 to the Ohio Revised Code’s Civil Rights Commission chapter and would require a person with a disability who encounters a potential architectural barrier to put the property owner on notice of the alleged barrier before filing suit. The theory behind the bill is that property owners could remove the architectural barrier without the cost or inconvenience of…

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03 Oct 2017 Will Ohio Pass a Law to Protect LGBTQ Rights?

  There has been widespread activity in the U.S. Courts of Appeals in 2017 regarding whether Title VII includes sexual orientation as one of its protected classes, but the answer is still unresolved on a national level. In an effort to provide protections where federal law does not necessarily do so, 20 states and the District of Columbia have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment settings. However, Ohio is not one of those 20 states, and past efforts to amend Ohio’s…

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24 Aug 2017 Massachusetts Law Latest to Bolster Protection for Pregnant Employees

  On July 27, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which amends the state’s antidiscrimination law to include pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as breastfeeding, as protected classes. The new law, which goes into effect on April 1, 2018, also requires employers to provide pregnant employees and new mothers with reasonable accommodations unless such accommodations would cause the employer undue hardship.   Potential accommodations identified in the statute include: more frequent or longer breaks paid or unpaid leave to recover from…

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22 Aug 2017 Ohio House Proposes Hurdles to Hiring Process

  The Ohio House has proposed a bill designed to protect the privacy of employment applicants, but the bill also could making hiring more cumbersome for employers.   House Bill 187 provides that no employer may request an applicant’s Social Security number, date of birth, or driver’s license number before making an offer of employment. This language is problematic for employers, because these are pieces of information an employer uses to check criminal records, driving history, credit history, and history of previous employment with the…

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10 Jul 2017 Ohio House Passes Bill Weakening Employers’ Ability to Restrict Guns on Property

  If it feels like I’m beating (or shooting) a dead horse with Ohio gun laws lately, it is because the Ohio legislature keeps passing laws that restrict employers’ right to prohibit firearms in their workplaces. The newest bill, which passed out of the Ohio House on July 6, would eliminate criminal penalties for carrying a deadly weapon into a business that restricts them.   As the law currently stands, a business may post signage stating that firearms are prohibited on the property. If an…

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29 Jun 2017 Ohio Legislature Considers Adding Teeth to New Gun Law

  On March 21, Ohio’s new gun law went into effect without a way to enforce it. The new law prevents employers from making or enforcing any policy that prohibits employees with concealed carry permits from storing firearms and ammunition in their locked cars on employer property. While this law spelled out employees’ right to lock guns in their cars, it contained no enforcement mechanism and no clear penalty on employers who obstruct employees from exercising their right.   Now the Ohio Senate is considering…

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08 Jun 2017 Ohio Court Finds New Local Minimum Wage Law Unconstitutional on Technicality

  A Franklin County, Ohio, judge has invalidated a new Ohio law that prohibited municipalities from enacting pro-employee laws raising the local minimum wage and guaranteeing additional employee rights. The law was found to be unconstitutional, but only on procedural grounds.   Ohio Senate Bill 331 started as an animal welfare bill – it regulated the sale of dogs from pet stores, prohibited cockfighting and bearbaiting, and outlawed bestiality. However, during the lame duck legislative session in December 2016, the House Finance Committee added diverse…

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06 Jun 2017 Ohio State University Considers Cutting Benefits for Unmarried Same-Sex Partners

  On June 9, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees will consider whether to stop allowing employees’ unmarried same-sex partners to obtain health insurance and other benefits. If the board approves the change, then unmarried same-sex partners already enrolled in benefit plans would keep those benefits through 2018, but no new unmarried same-sex partners would be allowed to obtain benefits.   This decision is not entirely novel. Miami University made a similar change at the end of 2016, same-sex partners must be married to…

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05 Jun 2017 Court Invites EEOC’s Opinion on Whether Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination

  We recently updated you on the Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit granted en banc review of the plaintiff’s claim to consider whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Now the court has taken an additional step of inviting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to give its two cents.   The EEOC is already on record in other courts arguing that Title VII covers sexual orientation…

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23 May 2017 Ohio House Takes Steps to Modernize Outdated Antidiscrimination Statutes

  On May 9, the Ohio House of Representatives’ Economic Development, Commerce, and Labor Committee favorably reported on House Bill 2, a bill that would streamline and modernize Ohio’s archaic antidiscrimination statutes.   Ohio’s antidiscrimination statutes are currently some of the least friendly in the country to employers. There are lengthy statutes of limitations, along with individual liability for managers and uncapped damages. There are four ways to file an age discrimination claim, all with different statutes of limitations and remedies. A plaintiff can simultaneously…

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